Tag Archives: loss

Blessed Receiving

As I seek to find the lessons through this season of grief, I am learning two more things… the true meaning of the word, incredible; and that there is also a blessing in receiving.

Let’s talk about incredible first: the Google definition says 1. impossible to believe; 2. difficult to believe, extraordinary.

It is incredible that since March 23 of this year, four people in or near our family circle have passed from this earth. As I write this, Daddy Bruss is on his way to see his mother, who may also be reaching the point where she needs end of life care. Incredible.

Also incredible is this calling I am answering from God to provide support to one of these families through their time of grief. I am not at liberty to share the details. What I can tell you: we serve a LIVING GOD. The pain they feel: Incredible. The little miracles that are happening, the daily answers to prayer – there is no other explanation other than the supernatural is in play here. Incredible.

The other lesson that I am learning is that although the Bible tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), it is also a blessing to receive with grace.

So much in our U.S. culture is rooted in independent, do-it-yourself resourcefulness. We pride ourselves on being “self-made”, on “pulling ourselves up from our bootstraps”, “dusting ourselves off”, and “starting all over again”.

When we teach classes on postpartum, we talk about the importance of accepting help after the baby is born. It requires us, as adults, to do what we have been indoctrinated against in our churches and in our culture…actually say YES and RECEIVE when someone offers to help us.

As we have experienced incredible grief, and watch others around us experience grief, it becomes apparent that postpartum is not the only time that we need to say YES to help that is offered. If people are blessed by giving to us, then we are acting in grace to receive the gifts with an open and humble heart. Although maybe we are more comfortable giving, grief is another season that grows us in the art of receiving.

As we are in our season of change, I need to be gracious and accept the offers of help from all the students that we have had the honor of helping through the years. As hard as it is for me to accept help, I am saying YES.

The image that rested on my heart as we entered this season was a story about Moses. One of the Old Testament stories relates a time when his father-in-law tells him that the job of shepherding the tribes of Israel is more than one person can handle alone. He proposes a system of governance so that Moses can find helpers and also remain in his role of service to the people. I am so grateful that these words are in my heart, and for these stories that serve as an example.

Those that know me well know how much I love to give, and how much joy, I receive from being a “giver”. Beyond that, I wonder if even some of my self-worth is tied up in being in a position of giving.  I can see now that this lesson is timely and that it is one I needed to learn.  Mark off another notch on the growth chart…I am growing again.

As I apply this lesson to the season of change we are in, I can see that grief is big. Changing homes and saying goodbye to what we thought was our forever home is big. And handling these things at the same time – even bigger. So I am learning to say YES. I am not in a season of blessed giving…I am in a season of graceful receiving.

Tell me your story – how have you been blessed by receiving?

Season of Change

Seasons – such a great analogy for the pathways through life. Cassandra wrote about the current season she is in recently – that of FOMO and realizing that she IS just where she needs to be *for now*.

We happen to be in a season of loss.  Loneliness. Isolation. Grief can be a very complex place to travel – while you know the pain you are feeling, it’s not something that others can see. It’s hard to walk around with a broken heart, yet you are expected to interact sanely with other people. When all you want to do is cry or scream at every reminder that you are hurt and yet – SMILE. BE NICE. Pretend you don’t feel crazy right now.

Let me back-track a little…we are very blessed. Our lives are rich in blessings: healthy children, good health for us, the opportunity to pursue an educational path that works for our family, work that is fulfilling. We give thanks for our blessings every day.

So much of the work that I do outside of homeschooling our children is centered around pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding – the joyful welcoming and nourishment of new life, and helping families cope when there are complications that stem from pregnancy or the birth journey…yet it all goes back to LIFE and living.

This season of loss is completely new to our family. It started last fall when a mom at the dance studio passed away in a car accident…since then, several other losses of close friends, acquaintances, and my husband’s father two weeks ago. Five services or funerals in all. And now one more family member is in critical care – oh my heart.

As mush as I hurt, these are friends and acquaintances for the most part…I can only imagine what the families are going through as we are grieving with Bruss’s family. For those of you that pray, please keep all the families affected by these losses in your thoughts and prayers. Husbands are grieving wives, fathers and mothers are grieving their daughters, children are grieving their mothers and fathers…it takes my breath away to think of the pain people carry throughout their day.

While I am hurting, is not my heart that concerns me. I am an adult and I have coping strategies. What is really on my heart is my children – how do we nurture them and reassure them that while all this loss feels overwhelming right now, this is only a season??? Three of the people in those five: mothers. A couple of our sweet peas are having separation anxiety, there is definitely more patience required for all of them on a daily basis. Their questions and behavior indicate that they are starting to wonder if I am next on the list of mothers that is going to be moving on to the next journey. (note to self: call an art therapist: stat)

On top of all this emotional turmoil, we are going to be moving – so now the loss of their childhood home in preparation for a calling we have to be ready.

I wonder: why is our family being “forced” to learn about grief? What is the lesson? It feels like a sloughing off of all the material things that are not important.  Now we can **really** appreciate the things that matter: family, health, living a life with meaning and intention.

What are we holding on to? The promise of SPRING after the season of Winter. I know this is only a season; this, too, shall pass.  I wonder: is it also a preparation for “real life”? We have been in “summer” (abundance, comfort, security) for so long, it had to cycle…is this a call to be humble and walk with more humility? Is it helping us all recognize that it will continue to cycle as we grow and walk in the Lord? I don’t know…all I do is keep searching for the lesson in all that has been happening.

This story from the Bible is first and foremost on my mind: the one about the bridesmaids waiting for the bridegroom – five were ready with oil for their lamps, and five were not.  The parable of readiness is really resonating: we don’t want to miss an opportunity. In our particular case, we want to be ready to travel light if we feel the call to do so. Is that across the country, or living abroad? Only time will tell.

So we are holding on to that: Be Ready. We are now going through the process of sorting through every room so that we can pack light for the next season, whatever it may hold. We have all seen and can appreciate what is really important – having each other, and taking care of our health so that we can live for the purpose God is calling us to fulfill.

And so starts the healing process – learning to GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I was really sad and angry when I read that verse out-loud in our daily Bible reading two weeks ago. I lost it in front our sweet peas, and honestly told them that I wasn’t ready to give thanks yet.  Writing today, I can see that from that anger, I have grown to a point where I can write with some gratitude for this season.

What have you learned from grief? First of all, I am sorry for your loss. I feel your pain. I would be tremendously grateful for any light you can shed on this season.

May the peace of the Lord and the grace of God be with you today…I am certainly learning to lean on it more, and to take comfort from the fact that we are children of a Living God.

Monday Musing: Mother’s Day

“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”

~Jill Churchill

Celebrating the day with our four children yesterday was amazing.  We are so blessed to have them in our lives.  I often marvel that I was chosen to be their mother – they are each of them teaching me lessons that I need to learn.  I thank God that he trusted me to grow them and nurture their souls, and pray that I don’t break them as I learn the lessons He sent with them!

I am also painfully aware that Mother’s Day might be hell on earth for other women: the women who have angels waiting in heaven from miscarriage, stillbirth or child loss, to those who’s hearts are heavy as they struggle with infertility, or because they never conceived and their childbearing days are over.  Maybe this is the first year without their own mother who has been called on to the next journey, or it is one of the successive years after the loss of their own mother that still carries a dull ache. 

For at least a month leading up to the event and for the whole second Sunday of May, every retailer, card company and television commercial is grinding salt into their wound.  I propose that it is up to us to mother these women – we can be the ones to love them, cherish them, listen to them, cry with them – just be with them without offering platitudes and trite words.   Make an effort and plan time with them – be available if they want to talk or share memories. Here are some places I go for word reminders when I am going to be “holding space” with them:

So how does the quote above tie-in? I am reminded once again that I have an incredible gift: four healthy, vibrant children that are very much alive.  I owe it to them to learn what makes them “tick”.  I owe it to them to put away my screens and literally face-time with them beyond doing our school-work together.  Hug them every day.  Look them in the eye every day.  Tell them they are loved, cherished and show them that they are respected every day.  Ask them what they want to do this week and make sure that the reasonable requests get planned and get done. The unreasonable requests present opportunities for creative play – something we can definitely do more. Since I am so list-driven, I lose sight of creative play – time to bring it back!

I will never be perfect – I can however, do my very best to be good to them and do good for them all throughout their day.